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Opinions of Thursday, 10 December 2015

Columnist: Dag Heward-Mills

To subdue an enemy without fighting is a leader’s skill

Do you know that when you are a good leader, you can accomplish great victories by not fighting? To not actually fight a war may involve surrender, retreat or avoidance. A good leader must know how to subdue an enemy without fighting. Retreat and surrender are often seen as signs of weakness. But sometimes retreat and surrender are not signs of weakness but signs of wisdom. It takes humility to accept the strategy of avoiding fighting, through retreat or surrender. You must accept that some enemies are too big, too strong or too erratic to fight. You must choose your fights carefully! If you choose your fights carefully you will win one hundred percent of your battles.

Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he will be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace.

Luke 14:31-32

A good leader must assess the battle that he has to fight. Is he going to win? Will he have the victory over his enemy? Can he handle what is coming his way? The Scripture teaches that a leader must offer conditions of peace when he sees that he cannot win.

Avoiding people who have little understanding is a good way of subduing an enemy without fighting him. Many rebellious people are uneducated and illiterate. Many (not all) strikes, protests and campaigns of discontentment are led by such people. Refusing to employ uneducated and illiterate people is also a way to outthink the enemy. Once you have such people as employees, they can be the seed of complaints, rebellions and discontentment.

The Scripture teaches us to flee youthful lusts. “Flee also youthful lusts…” (2 Timothy 2:22). Fleeing youthful lusts is not a sign of weakness! It is a sign of great wisdom. There are always enemies who are stronger than we are.

Lust is a strong enemy that consumes and burns away at our lives. Deciding to marry so that you can discharge your burning lusts may be better than resisting your lusts every day. You may not win the battle against lust if you try fighting it. You may have to avoid lusts by leaking out a bit of that desire every day. It takes humility to accept a strategy, which does not involve violence and fighting.

How Napoleon Was Subdued without Fighting

Napoleon is well known for invading Russia and being soundly defeated for doing so. When Adolf Hitler tried to invade Russia in his time, he was very conscious of the failure of Napoleon to conquer the Russians. Years before, the Russians had destroyed Napoleon’s army when he invaded Russia by constantly retreating and avoiding him. The Russians finally made a stand a few miles from Moscow and fought Napoleon, seriously weakening his army. When Napoleon eventually entered Moscow, the Russians had deserted the city and released all prisoners. They asked the prisoners to burn down Moscow, and the prisoners did so. The Russian army and all the citizens of Moscow had disappeared into thin air!

Napoleon entered the absolutely empty city of Moscow and spent one month hoping to find an enemy he could defeat. But the enemy had fled. The Czar of Russia was nowhere to be found. He and his troops had made a fast retreat. Napoleon desperately needed to meet with the Czar of Russia and make him kneel down in defeat. But this never happened. Napoleon simply could not lay hands on anyone to defeat.

After one month of waiting, Napoleon had to leave Russia and head for France. He had not seen the Czar nor had he met anyone in Moscow whom he could claim to have conquered.

On his long journey back to France, Napoleon’s troops were attacked continuously by the Russians who had disappeared into thin air. Napoleon himself came under threat on the journey back. Eventually, only 40,000 out of his 650,000 French soldiers survived and struggled back into France. The Russians had effectively defeated Napoleon by simply not fighting him!

Indeed, a good leader can display great skill and defeat an enemy without fighting him!